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5 short urban getaways

Whether it’s an art exhibition, a soccer game or dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, any excuse is a good one for a short urban getaway. Europeans are taking more and more city breaks, and this travel trend has been explored at the Paris International Tourism Expo, which took place from March 19 to 22. Here are five European city break destinations that are gaining favor with tourists in 2015.

Paris, France – The French capital’s world-class museums never fail to draw tourists from across Europe and beyond, and this year will be no exception. Art fans can look forward to the major exhibit on the Spanish master Velázquez, on display from March 25 at the Grand Palais. Other Parisian shows not to miss this season include a tribute to the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt at the Pinacothèque, the inaugural retrospective at the Picasso Museum, “David Bowie Is” at the Philharmonie de Paris and an exhibit devoted to Jean Paul Gaultier at the Grand Palais.

Milan, Italy – Designer boutiques are not the only thing bringing tourists to the Italian fashion capital. This will be especially true from May 1 to October 31, when Milan will host the 2015 World Expo. Thousands of curious visitors are expected to converge on the capital of Lombardy for Expo Milano, where 144 countries will be represented. Travelers can easily access the venue from downtown Milan on the metro. Shows and conferences will be held throughout the event on the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

La Valette, Malta – Designated as a European Capital of Culture in 2018, the tiny Maltese city of La Valette isn’t waiting three years for its turn in the spotlight. Ahead of the 450th anniversary of the fortified city’s founding, Malta has been busy updating this iconic travel destination while preserving its picturesque charm. Tourists might consider visiting La Valette on September 8, the national holiday, when the city will commemorate the lifting of the Great Ottoman siege of 1565. The surrounding region also offers plenty for travelers to explore, including the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni and the turquoise waters of the Blue Grotto.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – The Dutch capital is among the top destinations for modern painting fans this year, namely due to the festivities surrounding the 125th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death. Amsterdam is home to the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of his paintings. The highly-anticipated exhibit “Munch: Van Gogh,” opening September 24, will draw parallels between the work of the Dutch painter and that of the German expressionist Edvard Munch. Of course, Amsterdam isn’t the only Dutch destination of interest to Van Gogh enthusiasts, who might consider a trip to Otterlo and its Kröller-Müller Museum or to the painter’s birthplace outside of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Mons, Belgium – This small city has been designated as a 2015 European Capital of Culture, and it intends to live up to the title with around 300 cultural and artistic events. Some are related to the 125th anniversary of Van Gogh’s death, as it was in Mons that the Dutchman decided to become a painter. The festivities will also include several electronic music concerts, which have been a staple of the Belgian cultural scene for several years now. For tourists, it’s a perfect opportunity to combine daytime cultural outings with parties in the evening.

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